Venerable structure

Although other structures for the same purpose preceded it, this particular Eastwood School building dates to 1936, according to Alabama Historical Commission records. It was a school for black students during segregation decades. (Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/file)

JACKSONVILLE — The former Eastwood School building in Jacksonville might soon serve a new purpose, according to discussions from the City Council at its work session Monday night.

The school served black students until Jacksonville City Schools integrated in 1968. It has remained largely unused since then, according to Jennifer Sims, a representative from the Eastwood Preservation Community Development Inc. The building was used as a daycare center from 1970 to 2011.

The place has become a special location to the nearby residents, Sims said.

“It’s hard to think of a building coming alive, but that’s what happened for me,” said Sims, a member of the Jacksonville Board of Education “The building came alive because of what it represented.”

In 2012 concerned community members started a committee to find a new use for the school to prevent it from being torn down, according to Sims. She said the committee hopes the building can be used for educational purposes.

Some of the committee’s ideas include: an after-school tutoring facility, a Head Start center or a community center for the east side of the city.

Establishing a new purpose for the building has been a difficult issue for the city because finding who actually owned the building proved to be a lengthy task, according to Sims. The city eventually concluded that it owns the property and the City Council agreed to help Sims and her committee find a new use for the property.

“Now that we know who owns it we can start applying for grants,” Councilman Jerry Parris said.

In other business the council:

- Heard plans for an event at Jacksonville State University aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and injuries. The event is called “Rethink Before You Drink” and will be held at the Theron Montgomery Building auditorium on March 20.

- Approved a moratorium on the requirement to provide a concrete slab or apron under a mobile home.

- Approved a moratorium on the location of a mobile home on an individual lot.

- Approved a moratorium on the installation of billboards.